Hartlepool Post Office - Whitby Street Studios

Innovation and Skills Quarter

Masterplan –A Singular Holistic Vision

The long-term revitalisation strategy for the Church Street Victorian conservation area is focussed on the delivery of an Innovation and skills quarter for the city. Group ginger working with the council and Cushman Wakefield strategic agents have developed a masterplan for the area, identifying key built assets and areas for public sector investment. The masterplan vision and asset strategy evaluated the area and key assets that could drive regeneration as well as future partners to develop an active community.  The heritage focussed community activity programme identifies the Northern School of art and their growing student community as key stakeholder partners.  The proposed interventions place students at the heart of the regeneration plan for the historic conservation area to anchor the community.  A range of six projects are to be delivered over time including, public realm improvements to, Church square and Church street, The conservation and refurbishment of the grade one listed Shades Hotel, new build student residential accommodation, The Northern School of Art Film and Television Studios and the conversion and re-appropriation of the grade II listed post office, Whitby Street Studios.  Working collaboratively with Reform landscape and the client partners a singular holistic vision and framework has been provided with the flexibility to deliver areas independently and with different construction partners and separate grant applications delivered over time to sustain a renewed sense of place. The proposals shift the perception of the area away from one of decline into a progressive evolving and dynamic area with new life centred on the student population and their retention to establish a diverse community; nurturing collaborative relationships through the provision of spaces for new businesses, teaching and education and 100 bed student accommodation.  The grade II listed former GPO post office was identified as an initial catalytic project.


Revitalisation of Victorian grade II listed asset

The refurbishment and extension of the listed post office building provides a serviced facility offering studio spaces for start-up enterprises, flexible teaching spaces and a social networking environment.  The project is aimed at graduate capture to retain knowledge and skills in the city.

Working with the conservation officer we agreed an approach where new interventions and alterations are clearly articulated.  We have considered carefully building adaptation, only intervening where completely necessary to make the building function and work seamlessly as a whole entity. This approach helps preserve a raw freshness that architecture normally edits out.   As Architects of adaptation we are one of multiple authors; the original Architects, the previous occupiers, the owners, the new occupants, the visitors, and the artists. Each author contributes to the overall composition.  The design approach of retention, adaptation and addition creates a conversation between new and old, where the original building is the dominant feature. 

New build accommodation;

The existing building is extended by providing a new complementary fourth wing, enclosing the central area to create a common social space, which links new and old buildings unifying the spaces into a single facility.  The proposed new building is distinct, modern and clearly separate but complementary to the existing building.  The proposed massing of the new build extension complements the existing building; The new extension is smaller in bulk and mass to the listed building and consequently deferential respecting the hierarchical arrangement of buildings.  The spaces within the new building are designed to preserve flexibility and offer alternative and different accommodation to the spaces within the existing building, the new spaces offer flexible teaching spaces for the art and design college.

Social network and collaborative space;

Central to the unified whole is a covered courtyard. This multi-function space links the new and existing accommodation to provide a social gathering space capable of hosting events.  This is a space designed to allow different building occupants, including visitors and guests to mix with the intent of nurturing collaborative partnerships.

On site